If you are an incarcerated parent, the holidays typically are especially painful to endure. Instead of seeing your children opening gifts under the tree, you must be content with a short collect phone call — if you are lucky.
Being incarcerated does not automatically mean that you lose your parental rights, although that remains a possibility. What you do lose is the ability to remain a daily physical presence in your children’s lives.
There are still ways that prisoners can connect with their children from behind bars, but those connections can only be maintained with the custodial parent’s or guardian’s permission. If the person who is rearing your children decides to block access and communication between you and the kids, you will need to mount a legal challenge to maintain those ties.
In some circumstances, it may be possible for your child’s other parent or the guardian who is rearing them to have your parental rights terminated. This might not occur if you are serving a short sentence in a Tennessee county jail, but it is a real possibility if you have to serve hard time in a state or federal prison.
Of course, there is no guarantee that a family law court will side with you and order that your children be brought to the prison to visit with you. It’s possible that the judge could decide that exposing the kids to jailhouse visitation poses them more harm than benefits and deny your petition.
But that doesn’t mean that you should simply give up without trying. Judge’s decisions can be appealed, and at the least, when your children are grown, you will have proof that you did all that you were able to remain involved in their lives during your years of incarceration.
What can you do if you want to establish or continue your relationship with your children while you serve your time? Your first goal needs to be to retain a Tennessee family law attorney who can plead your case to the court.